Trying to Salvage an undesirable Formula

I have been formulating for about eight years now, but it seems there is an insatiable desire to create new formulas with different qualities and I truly enjoy it, despite the frustrations at times; I guess that's why there is an entire market for this; the possibilities are endless; in my endeavors, I continually try to save valuable product ingredients from being lost everytime I want to alter the formulat a bit; surely people can sympathize with that.

I don't know if someone has a scientific explanation for this question:

1) There can be many reasons why a finished product does not turn out the way you want it to, even if it's not technically a "failed emulsion" (such as coalescence, flocculation, creaming/sedimentation, or other problems); so if you want to add other ingredients to it, for the purpose of altering the product, it would seem reasonable to just re-heat, re-mix with high shear blender, and you should be able to have save all the valuable ingredients you started with.  Nobody wants to start over from scratch and lose valuable ingredients.  However, I have come across videos from lab technicians and formulators that have commented that you cannot simply re-heat and re-mix, because once the micelles have formed, some of them cannot necessarily be re-formulated the way you want; more speficially, I have heard one say that if you want to add additional ingredients, you shouldn't re-heat any higher than about 55C/131F or you will "break the emulsion" and essentially ruin it.  Isn't that the point?  Wouldn't you want to break the micelles, and re-form them to include the additional ingredients?  Wouldn't you want to make sure the entire batch is completely homogenized together?

For example, if you just want to add some additional Lipids to the formula for aesthetic purposes, with additional emulsifiers that are designed to support proper emulsification of those ingredients, (whether it be for an oil-in-water or water-in-oil emulsion), then wouldn't you want to re-heat (at least up to the highest melting point ingredient) in order to get everything broken down and micelles reconfigured?

NOTE:  The short answer I have gotten from other sources, is YES, you can do that (just re-heat and high shear re-mix until cool down), but the results will NOT be the same as what it would be if you start over completely from scratch.  I am not sure how or why that would make sense from a scientific (chemistry) perspective.  Maybe I am missing something that may have been helpful to know years ago.

Hope someone can provide clarity and insight.


  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    I don't believe there is a general answer that applies to all systems. Yes, you can reheat, remix, add more, and cool to some systems. No, you can't do it for other systems. It also may work but turn out differently or it may work and turn out the same.  Specific emulsions are complicated systems.

    I will add that the company I worked for would occasionally "save" manufacturing batches following this method. But it required us to do stability testing before they could release the batch. 
  • Thanks.  Good to know that I'm not the only one that attempts to save a batch, and that it could be okay as long as the post-testing is done.
  • prow18prow18 Member
    I've used test batches that I reheat and modify when they don't turn out right. This has proven to be a time saving and most cost effective option during the formulation process. This is a great way to get an idea of how the product will be if you are altering it, but it's always best to make a fresh batch and compare. 

    A couple things to consider: 
    - Account for evaporation in water based formulations when reheating
    - Know if any of your ingredients are heat sensitive, many ingredient will say to add them in at the end during the cooling phase. For testing purposes it may be fine to see how the emulsion turns out, but you may not want to put that batch to market. 
    - Lost product in the reheating phase can change the % ratio of the amount of product you are putting in. When you scoop/pour out finished product from containers it is best to weigh the actual amount of product that is being used instead of going by the total number of units (1 jar, 1 bottle, etc). It's almost impossible to get the entire amount out of whatever jar you poured it in. 

    I'm with you for not wasting existing material!! Sometimes a solution can be to make a new product with a mix of those ingredients and others. 

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